Even More Musical Terms … and Quotes

Anonymously Contributed…

Obligato – being forced to practice

Metronome – short, city musician who can fit into a Honda Civic

Lento – the days leading up to Easto

Largo – beer brewed in Germany for the Florida Keys

Piu Animato – clean out the cat’s litter box

Con Spirito – drunk again

Colla Voce – this shirt is so tight I can’t sing

Improvisation – what you do when the music falls down

Prelude – warm-up before the clever stuff

Flats – English apartments

Chords – things organists play with one finger

Discords – thing that organists play with two fingers

Suspended Chords – useful for lynching the vocalist

Time Signatures – things for drummers to ignore

Melody – an ancient, now almost extinct, art in songwriting

Klavierstuck – A term used by German furniture movers attempting to get a piano through a narrow doorway.

Music Stand – An intricate device used to hold music. Comes in two
sizes – too high or too low – always broken. Tonic – A medicinal drink consumed in great quantity before a
performance, and in greater quantity afterwards. Dominant – What parents must be if they expect their children to
practice. Concert Hall – A place where large audiences gather, for the sole
purpose of removing paper wrappings from candy and gum.

Sotto Voce – singing while drunk

Agogic – playing high enough on an oboe to make the eyes bulge.

Cadenza – slapping noise on office furniture

Fandango – grabbing the pull chain on the ceiling fan

Prima Volta – jump start with a battery

Refrain – proper technique for playing bagpipes

Smorzando – with melted chocolate and marshmallow


“Never look at the trombones, it only encourages them.” Richard Strauss”One of the perks of being an unemployed musician is that you get to play much less bad music.” Jack Daney ” After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the
inexpressible is music.” Aldous Huxley

“Music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all. Music expresses itself. ” Igor Stravinsky

“Hell is full of musical amateurs.” George Bernard Shaw

“The drummer drives. Everybody else rides!” Panama Francis

“Some days you get up and put the horn to your chops and it sounds pretty good and you win. Some days you try and nothing works and the horn wins. This goes on and on and then you die and the horn wins.” Dizzy Gillespie on playing the trumpet

“Music is my mistress, and she plays second fiddle to no one.” Duke Ellington

“Jazz is the only music in which the same note can be played night after night but differently each time.” Ornette Coleman

“We never play anything the same way once. ” Shelly Manne’s definition of jazz musicians

“Someone who knows how to play the accordion, and doesn’t.” AI Cohn’s definition of a gentleman

“Music is a very hard instrument.” Vido Musso

“The only tune they play in 4/4 is ‘Take Five!”‘ (unknown-talking about the Don Ellis band)

“If I could play like Wynton (Marsalis), I wouldn’t play like Wynton. Chet Baker

“I’m too old to pimp, and too young to die, so I’m just gon’ keep
playin’. Clark Terry

“A great teacher is one who realizes that he himself is also a student and whose goal is not dictate the answers, but to stimulate his students creativity enough so that they go out and find the answers themselves.” Herbie Hancock

“To be a musician is a curse. To NOT be one is even worse. Jack Daney

“Don’t bother to look, I’ve composed all of this already”, Gustav Mahler to Bruno Walter who had stopped to admire mountain scenery in rural Austria.

“I would rather play Chiquita Banana and have my swimming pool than play Bach and starve.” Xavier Cugat

“Musicians  talk of nothing but money and jobs: Give me businessmen every time. They really are interested in music and art.” Jean Sibelius, explaining why he rarely invited musicians to his home.

“Only become.a musician if there is absolutely no other way you can make a living.” Kirke Mecham, on his life as a composer

“I am not handsome, but when women hear me play, they come crawling to my feet.” Paganini

“What is the voice of song, when the world lacks the ear of taste?”
Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Flint must be an extremely wealthy town: I see that each of you bought two or three seats.” Victor Borge, playing to a half-filled house in Flint, Michigan,

“If one hears bad music it is one’s duty to drown it by one’s
conversation.” Oscar Wilde

“Critics can’t even make music by rubbing their back legs together..” Mel Brooks

“Life can’t be all bad when for ten dollars you can buy all the
Beethoven sonatas and listen to them for ten years.” William F. Buckley, Jr.

“You can’t possibly hear the last movement of Beethoven’s Seventh and go slow.” Oscar Levant, explaining his way out of a speeding ticket.

“Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.” Mark Twain

“Berlioz says nothing in his music, but he says it magnificently.” James Gibbons Hunekar

“If a young man at the age of twenty-three can write a symphony like that, in five years he will be ready to commit murder.”  Walter Damrosch on Aaron Copland

“There are still so many beautiful things to be said in C major.” Sergei Prokofiev

“I never use a score when conducting my orchestra. Does a lion tamer enter a cage with a book on how to tame a lion?” Dimitri Mitropolous

“God tells me how the music should sound, but you stand in the way. ”  Arturo Toscanini to a trumpet player

“Already too loud! ” Bruno Walter at his first rehearsal with an
American orchestra, on seeing the players reaching for their instruments.

“I really don’t know whether any place contains more pianists than Paris, or whether you can find more asses and virtuosos anywhere..” Frederic Chopin

“When she started to play, Steinway himself came down personally and rubbed his name off the piano. ” Bob Hope, on comedienne Phyllis DilIer

“In opera, there is always too much singing.” Claude Debussy

“Oh how wonderful, really wonderful opera would be if there were no singers!” Giacchino Rossini

“I think popular music in this country is one of the few things in the twentieth century that has made giant strides in reverse.” Bing Crosby

“A ponderous orchestral absurdity.” Frank Zappa on his rock symphony debuted by the Los Angeles Philharmonic

“The bottom line of any country is, what did we contribute to the world? We contributed Louis Armstrong.” Tony Bennett

“It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that swing!” -Duke Ellington

Q:  What is the difference between a Blues musician and a Jazz
A:  A Blues musician plays 3 chords in front of 1000 people;
A Jazz musician plays 1000 chords in front of 3  people.

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